Everything we love about our exclusive luxury holiday rentals

Through the Keyhole: Naam Sawan

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Elite Havens’ villas come in many shapes and sizes. That they are all luxurious homes in some of Asia’s most prized locations, brimming with first-class facilities and tended to by a caring team of staff, goes without saying, but beyond that, each and every villa has its own distinctive character. Many are the fulfilment of their owners’ dreams and have interesting stories attached to their creation.

‘Through the Keyhole’ takes a peek behind the scenes and chats with some of our villa owners to find out how the dream became a reality.  Naam Sawan owners tell us about their stunning beachfront home on Phuket’s east coast.

Beachfront Phuket villa

Why did you choose to buy your villa in Phuket and at this location?

We were living in Singapore in 2004 and looking to invest in a vacation and possibly a retirement home in Asia. When you look into it properly and consider all that you may need there are actually very limited options. We had visited Phuket many times, and I had viewed many properties up and down the busier crowded west coast towns, beaches and developments. An agent showed me an undeveloped piece of dense jungle on the east coast with a dirt track cut through the trees. Within 2 days we had staked out a lot with 4 small posts as we were the first to commit to the project. It took some time but we eventually built, and now 14 years later the estate, hotel, restaurants and all the amenities and facilities are complete. There are very few locations available with a private accessible beach, incredible jade waters, views of the Phang Nga islands and a full service resort, and city like facilities all around you. We are near yachting marinas, golf resorts, shopping malls, the hills and mountains, schools, hospitals and endless entertainment – and only 20 minutes from the airport. And no crowds or traffic. 

What is your inspiration for the villa design?

As written on the websites, the master design was by Stark and Gatthy with preset principles of external structure to show a modern contemporary vision of the Thai pavilion as the center piece. Additional features included the vaulted ceilings with tall columns, and the shade and cooling management for the villa being efficient through louvered external window and wall lattice,

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What to expect in a Maldives villa

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When is a villa not a villa? When you’re booking a luxury Maldives getaway, it can be hard to know exactly what it is you’re booking. Villa, suite, bungalow, residence, condo, resort… everywhere you turn someone is using a different word to describe the same thing, or what you thought you were looking turns out to be something different.

So to help you out, here’s a quick cheat sheet to help you choose.


Being made of up of more than 1,192 islands, the Maldives is rich pickings for private resorts from the big hotel brands. On the larger islands, you’ll find them lining private stretches of beach, only accessible to guests. More exclusive resorts take a smaller island to themselves, so the only people you’ll see on the island are other guests or staff of the resort.

Either way, they’ll offer a full service with restaurants, a bar and facilities for guests, plus a range of rooms, from hotel style blocks to free standing suites.

Bungalows & water villas

This is usually resort-speak for watertop, stilted suites. It’ll usually include a spacious, en-suite room, plus a balcony with stunning views across the Indian Ocean. More premium suites might feature a separate living space or dressing room as well. Some resorts may use this lingo for detached suites on the shore with a private pool.

They’re still part of the resort, so the accompanying dining options will be the resort’s house restaurants and bars.


What you might identify as a villa (if you’re European) or a condo (if you’re from North America). The Amilla Beach Villa Residences are four-, six-, and eight-bedroom properties, with their own stretch of crystal white sand beach and private pools, and fully self-sufficient with kitchen, bar and facilities.

The Amilla Beach Villa Residences are on a tiny swathe of land in the Baa Atoll, to the north of the Maldives archipelago. There are eight villas in the collection: six with four bedrooms, the six-bedroom Amilla Villa Estate, and the eight-bedroom Great Beach Villa Residence. The expansive pool-side terraces lead down directly on to each villa’s private stretch of pristine beach.

Each villa is run by a team of staff, headed up by the katheeb (or housemaster) who’s responsible for overseeing guests’ stay at Amilla’s residences,

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East Bali: Top things to do and best beachfront villas

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Villa Pushpapuri Bali Beachfront Villa

Its easy to be seduced by the glamour of southern Bali with its trendy restaurants and uber-cool beach clubs, but if you have something a little quieter in mind for your Bali holiday, the pristine Sunrise Coast on the island’s eastern shores has a charm all its own.

Saba beach in East Bali

Peaceful coastal villages nestle amidst banana plantations, lush green rice fields and exotic palm-fringed black sand beaches. A trio of volcanos looming in the distance make the most stunning of backdrops, especially when bathed in the pearly pink light of a Bali sunrise.


The atmospheric seaside town of Candidasa is situated mid-way up the east coast just 60km from the airport. Local art shops sell paintings, handicrafts and wood carvings, while casual open-air restaurants are strung along the shore, some with candle-lit tables right on the beach. Make sure to check out the main temple with a dreamy location on the edge of a lotus-filled lagoon.

Adventure-seekers can trek to the top of Mount Agung – the island’s highest peak, while water enthusiasts can explore Bali’s best dive sites, such as the HMS Liberty Wreck. Adrenalin junkies can get their kicks on a shark dive, or glide through the water with manta rays. The cool waters of Tirta Gangga, an elaborate water palace tucked into the nearby hills, makes a gentler respite with its spring fed pools and water fountains carved from stone.

A few kilometers inland from Candidasa, the 700-year-old walled village of Tenganan is home to the Bali Aga, the island’s first inhabitants. It is quite a cultural attraction these days, but still provides a fascinating glimpse into a traditional way of life and is justly famed for its beautiful ikat weavings.

The small coastal village of Jasri is home to Charly’s chocolate factory. You won’t find Willy Wonka, but you will find delicious chocolate (try the Narkabo dark chocolate nibbles) and great photo opportunities thanks to a quirky assortment of cone-shaped bamboo houses clustered in a grove of coconut palms right on the beach. Nearby, a bumpy dirt road winds through verdant forest to emerge at Pasir Putih (white sand) rightly crowned as Bali’s most beautiful beach. Bathe in the turquoise sea, soak up the rays from a deckchair and indulge in fresh fish for lunch, barbecued right in front of you. 

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Phuket Architecture and the Evolution of Luxury Design

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Thai architecture Phuket hillside Villa Minh

Before Phuket, Thailand earned its reputation as a world-class beach holiday destination, for centuries it called to fortune-seekers, workers and traders from Asia, Arabia and Europe. This interesting convergence of cultures is reflected in the island’s architecture. We take a look at how luxury villa design has evolved in Phuket over the last 150 years or so.


Baan Chinpracha Historic Mansion in Phuket by Opal HoPHUKET TOWN OLD GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE

Back in Phuket’s booming tin-mining days in the late 1800s to early 1900s, the island’s emerging wealthy class built luxury mansions of Sino-Colonial design, in a fashion that reflected the tastes of the tin-mine barons of the time, who were largely descendants of Hokkien Chinese immigrants with family ties stretching from Phuket to Penang, Malacca and Singapore.

A handful of these mansions still stand today in Phuket Town, including the old governor’s residence, now home to the Blue Elephant restaurant (pictured above), and next door Baan Chinpracha mansion (below), which is now part family home, part museum.

Baan Chinpracha Historic Thai Architecture by Jinjoo ShinINSIDE BAAN CHINPRACHA MANSION

European influences are seen in the homes’ elaborate porticos (arched windows and doorways), neo-classical pillars and Italian marble floor tiles with intricate designs. Thick walls and inner courtyards helped protect the mansions’ residents from the sweltering heat, and air circulated through rows of elegantly arched louvered windows. 

These luxury villas of the past were largely found in the island’s interior near Phuket’s commercial centres – all the fabulous beaches lining its coast were not considered desirable places to live for anyone but fisher-folk. But once travellers discovered the beaches and tourism replaced tin mining as the economic driving force in the 1980s, visions of luxury living shifted to the coastlines.



In 1988, a coconut plantation on a headland near Surin Beach became home to the Amanpuri, an exclusive resort built to a level of luxury unheard of at the time on Phuket. Designed by architect Edward Tuttle as a collection of elegant pavilions spilling over the hillside, it was a ground-breaking style that came about after his extensive travels around Thailand.


His main inspiration was the ancient Ayutthaya architecture of central Thailand (above),

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Seminyak’s Modern Classic Black & White Villa

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Issi Seminyak Villa Black and White Bedroom

On their home décor website, style authority ELLE has a slideshow of black and white interiors from Manhattan to Brazil, saying “black and white rooms are guaranteed to never go out of style.” The modern kitchens, quaint bathrooms, European farmhouses and Santa Monica celebrity cribs are all “ridiculously fab.” But something is missing.

ELLE’s would-be-perfect presentation of contrasting shiny blacks and beautifully textured whites is a timely one. The persisting colour combo is experiencing a peak in popularity, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Black-and-white is in right now for everything regal; Khloe Kardashian’s living room, runways, red carpets, retail.


Black and white was big at Fashion Week in Sydney. Photo by VOGUE PARIS.Black and white was big at Fashion Week in Sydney. Photo by VOGUE PARIS.


It dominated the star-studded Cannes Film Fest. Also by VOGUE PARIS.It dominated the star-studded Cannes Film Fest. Also by VOGUE PARIS.


Black and white outfit by The Tailor & his LoverIt’s hot at boutique clothing shops in Bali.
GET THE LOOK: The Tailor & his Lover, Jl. Batubelig No. 1, Seminyak.

Back to ELLE’s 30 Black and White Décor Ideas. What’s missing?


Issi Seminyak Villa Black and White BedroomBlack and white interiors are sophisticated and timeless on tropical islands, too.

Many of the private pool villas across Southeast Asia are cause for design envy the world over, and this Seminyak villa, Villa ISSi, well its master bedroom suite should be on ELLE’s list of black and white designer rooms.

 Issi Seminyak Villa Black and white Bali bathroomSurely this sleek ensuite makes the grade. Again, Villa ISSi.

Ensuites at Bali’s designer villas are the precedent for open-air bathrooms throughout the tropics and anyone can see why.

Villa Issi - Black and white interior design BaliIn Villa ISSi’s retro-styled lounge, the villa’s concept is spelled out.

The colour motif is strong throughout all four of the spacious bedrooms and the living areas, with only minimal colour accents and patterns in the soft furnishing.

Villa ISSi is art. Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Budi Pradono from Indonesia, the ultramodern Seminyak villa is one-of-a-kind inside and out,

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